The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Will the Turkish military intervene in Iraq?

Oct 22, 2007

On October 17, the National Assembly of Turkey authorized military intervention in Iraq against the Kurdish guerrillas of the PKK, who have military bases inside Iraq.

It was a formality. For a long time, Turkish generals have attacked the Kurds of northern Iraq, sometimes bombing what they say are PKK bases, and sometimes carrying out ground attacks across the border. The generals pressured the Turkish government for months to ratify this policy.

Ever since the first Gulf War, the Kurdish region in Iraq has enjoyed a kind of autonomy. The situation is more stable there than in the rest of Iraq. Turkish capitalists even profit there, selling and building in this Kurdish region. But the heads of the Turkish army view this Kurdish autonomy in Iraq as a risk, setting an example for the Kurds in Turkey. Despite a few legal changes, the Turkish state continues to deny Turkish Kurds the right even to speak Kurdish or to have a press in their own language.

Of course, it would be simpler for the Turkish government to recognize the democratic rights which the Kurds of Turkey are demanding. But the government is incapable of carrying out such a policy, because Turkish society denies a great number of these same rights to the Turks themselves.

Turkey has for a long time had its eye on the oil riches of Kirkuk and Mosul in this region. At the same time, the big Turkish capitalists who wish to join the European Union want to carry out profitable business in northern Iraq, the Middle East and central Asia, without the burden of a costly military intervention. So they prefer to leave that to the U.S., for example.

As for the U.S., military leaders say they oppose a Turkish invasion into Northern Iraq. But they may lack the means to prevent it.

So perhaps a new front will be opened in Iraq by the intervention of the Turkish army. The chaos which the U.S. intervention has brought about in Iraq could be extended a little more, involving its neighbors.